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Like this, Forever by Sharon Bolton – a review

I picked this book up on a whim as it was part of some of the free books that I was given at the Festival. As it was a proof copy it didn’t have any blurb on the back so I wasn’t really aware of what the story was about. The quotes on the cover were enough to make it stand out from the pile on my dressing table and grab on my way out to catch a train.

I was certainly not disappointed that I had done. The main character that the book focuses on is Barney. Children are going missing and when their bodies turn up they have been drained of blood. Young Barney lives with his Dad and is obsessed with searching for his mum who he believes is living in London somewhere. He also follows the investigation into the disappearance of the children following updates on the special facebook page set up to discuss the murders.

Barney lives next door to Lacey who is a policewomen currently on sick leave after a traumatic experience whilst on duty (dealt with in a previous novel I believe) He asks her to help him find his mum, and in the process of helping she finds out more than she bargained for.

I really enjoyed this book. I don’t believe that I’ve read any Sharon (or S.J as she was previously known) Bolton before although I will definitely be reading more. Throughout the story I was kept guessing as to the perpetrator and there were numerous possibilities all intertwining different stories, for example the teacher who takes a special interest in Barney, his friends with their own lives and families, the football coach who is always busy on the same nights, the man who posts on facebook. At no point did I guess the true identity.

I thought that the inclusion of social media worked well, especially as it gave a good insight into how children interact via these sites nowadays. It was an interesting mix of normal police investigation led by Dana Tulloch and a childrens viewpoint and their belief that they can find out who did it.

Unlike a lot of books this was a book that didn’t waste words. Although I felt slightly that I missed parts of the story, for example who does Lacey go and visit in prison? I suspect that most of these are either things that would be clearer if I had read previous Lacey novels, or indeed will get cleared up in the next book. Hopefully I don’t have to wait until next years festival to get a copy of that one!

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Lazy Bones

Happy New Year to all, I hope you have had a good festive break.

As always the start of another New Year brings with it the inevitable question of ‘What are your New Year’s resolutions?’ Personally I don’t make them, mainly as I don’t believe in them. Just because the year is one number higher, why does that suddenly mean you are going to stop being lazy and actually do the things you’ve talked about?

I’m a great procrastinator (at work anyway), and nowadays blame the internet. I suspect that there is a direct correlation between people who say they don’t have enough time to do things, and those who spend the most time surfing the net and playing on facebook. Maybe everyone should make a New Year’s resolution to go cold turkey and give up the internet one day a week for 2013. If we all did that, and then spent that time buying and reading books, we would make James Daunt and Waterstones very happy!

Apparently (well according to Wikipedia, the font of most of my knowledge) resolutions originally stem from the ancient Babylonians who made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. Well that sounds like a silly resolution to me, returning all the books I’ve borrowed and accidently forgotten to give back would take me til 2015 to do.

Of course sometimes resolutions do have their place. Take the Hilda’s for example (for new readers this should explain them) Hilda1 is having teeth implants next week to straighten her wonky teeth. After this she is going full out for a makeover with a new hair style and some new clothes. Whilst Hilda2 was talking about going on holiday to somewhere snowy so she could go bottom boarding whatever that is. Never mind that 1 is in their 80s and 2 is in their 60s, its a new year and they are going do something. As  Du Plessis says in Wild at Heart ‘Its how you live your life, not how long you live it for that counts’ which the Hilda’s would obviously agree with (although they seem to be going for both how and how long).

Whilst I don’t do resolutions, I do like ‘to do’ lists which I suppose in a way are mini resolutions. Lists of things to do over the holiday, lists of housework that needs doing, lists of tv programmes I’d like to watch. My favourite list is my list of books to read, which is a list I’ve never yet completed. For every one I finish I usually add four more. Maybe I should make a New Year’s resolution to actually finish one reading list before starting another. But thats the thing with resolutions apparently 88% of them fail anyway, so why waste time making them!

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No time for goodbye

I was in Glasgow last week running an exhibition stand. Our stand was positioned directly opposite the internet area where delegates could sit and check their emails and ensure they kept up to date with all important work related things.

Having spent 5 days sat watching the people using these computers I can categorically state that the most used website at this conference is guess what…Facebook! As you may have guessed from my previous posts the whole Facebook addiction has rather passed me by. Don’t get me wrong I have been known to check the site from time to time and having been sat here on my own and rather bored this week I’ve probably looked at it more than normal. I am naturally a very nosy person. But it still saddens me to see how people are so obsessed with the minutia of other lives and how people seem to live their lives via Facebook updates. As for ‘liking’ things, that’s just plain weird. For example, ‘Little Johnny is currently waiting for the doctor to sew his arm back on’ and people like it!

There will be a whole generation of people who grow up unable to interact with other human beings face to face. They will get the shakes if they have to go somewhere with no internet access. There will be support groups to join – My name is Nigel and I’m an internet addict. You’ll be able to go to the doctors to get tranquilizers if you have to travel by tube with no internet connection.

It’s the inordinate amount of time it wastes that I think upsets me most. At one point during the conference I got out my kindle to take advantage of the free wifi and make sure I had a couple of books ready in case my train was delayed and I ran out of reading material on the journey home. One of the delegates saw me and started chatting saying how they would love to read but don’t have the time. They then proceeded to go over and spend 25 minutes staring at Facebook. That 25 minutes could have been spent reading a book! I bet there is a direct relationship between people who check their emails every 5 minutes and spend hours staring at Facebook to those who say they have no time to read or take up other hobbies. (Potential psychology experiment there sis?)

I have never understood how people don’t read? As you will be aware by now I love reading and read almost anywhere stain on the silence  Its so accessible. It doesn’t matter what age, or how much money you have reading is a hobby that can be done by all, and I’m sure if people spent as much time reading as they do updating their status the world would be a happier place!

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Close enough to kill

A couple of weeks ago I met a friend for lunch and one topic of conversation was facebook (Not a book, although if it were a book, if you ask me Facebook accounts would be on a par with the telephone directory. We all have one sitting around and don’t really want to get rid of it, but have no interest in 99.9% of the people in it. Am I the only person who uses the phone book once the first time it arrives and only then to look myself up?)

At  lunch we were discussing the fact that lots of people with accounts on facebook have a huge amount of ‘friends’ but how many of these do they ever actually meet up with, or even have the ability to contact outside of Facebook means? They are virtual not real.

That’s one of the most exciting aspects of the Theakstons Crime Writers Festival, all these people that I’ve only seen on the fly covers of books are actually there in real life, walking around, signing books and having face to face conversations.  However, having a conversation with Martina Cole last year (where incidentally she told me my name would make a good name for a prostitute in one of her books) does not make me her friend. In the same way ‘poking’ someone on Facebook does not make them a friend.  I’m as nosy as the next person, and do use Facebook as a way of looking at what people are doing, but that tends to be people who I haven’t had a conversation with in 10 years. If I want to know what a real friend is up I’ll talk to them.

Saying that though, the crime loving part of me does enjoy the emergence of Facebook and especially twitter. Last year I was lucky enough to see Patricia Cornwall talk in Harrogate, and on my way home I set up a twitter account as she had mentioned that she was a prolific user. That evening I was therefore able to see that bad weather had grounded her flight and she had to drive all the way to Heathrow to fly back to America, rather than boarding at Leeds Bradford. I found this ability to track her movements rather fun, but there is still a big part of me that feels this is bordering on stalking. I know obviously I can only see what she wants to put on but still it somehow feels wrong and rather creepy.

I bet the ability to track people’s movements is becoming more and more a part of the serial killers armoury.  It must certainly save them time, no more of that hanging around on street corners waiting for the victim to return. They can just check out a potential victims status whilst sat in the warm with a nice glass of Chianti and wait until they see posted ‘loving spinning class tonight, now time to hit the shower’ then have a leisurely drive round!

Another conversational topic at this particular lunch was of course books (you may have gathered that a lot of my conversations involve books, its not even limited to friends, people at work, strangers on the bus, I bore them all!) I’ve recently introduced Patricia Cornwell to my friend, in return they suggested Carl Hiaasen, describing them as comedy crime capers. Not someone I’ve read before, although I’m always happy to try new books. Unfortunately however, as he’s not on the list for the festival I may have to wait a while. Maybe I should contact Mark Billingham via twitter and ask him to invite Carl Hiaasen, I am after all his twitter friend!

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